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The Righteous Gentile Interjects (James 2:18-19 and Romans 2:14-15)

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Abstract Jas 2:18-19 is at the heart of James’ famous (or, to some, infamous) argument about faith and works, but it defies definitive interpretation due to combined difficulties in punctuation and in tracing the literary continuity in James’ argument. This essay approaches the problematic passage in the context of James’ literary intertextuality with Paul. It suggests that the enigmatic objector in James is one of Paul’s righteous gentiles (Rom 2:14-15), who lumps James and his Jewish Christian ‘brothers’ together in charging them with hypocrisy (cf. Rom 2:17-23). James artfully gives this gentile Christian voice to strengthen his own argument, for an audience already alerted to his rich intertextuality with Paul.

Affiliations: 1: Durham


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